Baby name consultation: “Short and cute” or “dripping in significance” … or both!

I posted a consultation for Ali and her husband a couple of years ago, and subsequent birth announcement, and I’m excited that Ali wrote again asking for help with girl name ideas!

Ali’s older kiddos are:

Max Patrick
Zack Joseph
Tiber Augustine

I love all those names, and it’s interesting to hear that Ali’s changed her mind about her name preferences as time has gone on: When I did the consultation when Tiber was on the way, she and her hubby wanted a short name, preferably one syllable, and didn’t want a name with a nickname — they were more likely to like the nickname itself as a given name (like Max and Zack). But Ali said about Tiber’s name:

I thought I knew what I wanted last time but I was so so so wrong. Thank goodness we have you! You knew me better than I did and we picked a name off your second list and I felt so connected to the meaning … at Tiber’s baptism, our priest told the entire church our conversion story, the history of crossing the Tiber river, and who St. Augustine is to both protestants and catholics. He then told me (in front of the entire church) about his mother, St. Monica, who had prayed endlessly for his conversion and gave me a prayer card he had laid on her tomb in Rome when he celebrated mass there. I was in tears. If this is how amazing a perfectly selected name could be, how could I ever settle for less? Names are so much more important than syllables or style or popularity.”

What a moving story!! Ali continues,

So I need your help again, but this time for a girl! We’ve got boys names picked for days but we can’t seem to agree on a girl name.

[Hubby], like last time, likes shorter names that sound cute. Like Eva, Ava, or Claire. To date, I think those are the only ones he has said he really really likes. I like the crazier names dripping in significance, like Jubilee, Hosanna, Evangeline, Immaculee, Hallelujah (or Halle, but that rhymes with my name). Right now the only name we have found we are both ok with is Magdalene (which is quirky and significant enough for me, and is an “eh” from Hubby). I’m sure she’ll end up as a middle name at least.

Other names we have considered and both have given a “eh” rating or better to are:
Emilia
Noelle
Genevieve
Rose
Pearl
Phoebe
Clara

If we can find a name that is auditorily appealing to the hubs that also makes me feel more connected to God, the body of Christ here on earth, and the communion of saints in heaven, I think we will have a winner.”

Oh man! Challenge accepted! 😀

Magdalene is a fantastic name, and I like how Ali characterized it as “quirky and significant enough” for her. Great description!

Quickly, I’d like to just offer a couple quick thoughts on the names that are on Ali’s and her hubby’s lists, in case they’re helpful:

  • Eva, Ava: These are both variants of Eve, so they’re Marian via her title New Eve. I like them!
  • Jubilee, Hosanna, Hallelujah: These are so fantastic! But I assume they’re not realistic candidates? They did help me in finding other names Ali might like!
  • Evangeline: Ali and her hubby aren’t too far apart with his Eva/Ava and her Evangeline!
  • Immaculee: This variant as well as Immaculata are two of my favorite, unexpected ways to name for Our Lady.
  • Emilia: Lovely! St. John Paul II’s mom’s name was Emilia, and her cause for canonization has recently been opened!
  • Noelle: This is such a lovely name, and the fact that it means Christmas makes it a really faith-filled name!
  • Genevieve: A big favorite among my readers, for good reason! It and Evangeline are often on parents’ lists together.
  • Rose: A beautiful, simple, Marian name.
  • Pearl: Ditto!
  • Phoebe: This might be the only name on this shared list that I think fits the quirkiness Ali seems to like! And it’s biblical, which gives it good faith connection.
  • Claire, Clara: Both sweet, saintly names.

I took a look at my previous email conversation with Ali, and was surprised that her frontrunner last time — Kate, for her late best friend — isn’t on the list. I wonder if she’d like it as a middle name? Being short and sweet, it can offset a longer first name nicely, like Magdalene Kate. I like it with some of my new ideas for them, too. (I also just want to say, I love the idea of using Ali’s middle name in her daughter’s name as well! Grace is full of faith significance, and can be Marian too, for Our Lady of Grace. And like Kate, it can balance a lengthier first name really nicely. And so nice for a girl to share a name with her mom!)

Before getting to my new ideas, I also want to take another look at some of the names I suggested for this family last time that I still really like for them! In fact, I didn’t look back at our old emails until after already making my list for Ali and her hubs for this time, and was pleasantly surprised to see that so many of my favorite ideas for them this time are ones I suggested to them before! The more “normal” suggestions from last time, that are probably more Ali’s husband’s taste, include:

(1) Tess
I looove the name Tess, and just like with Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate (a contender last time), it’s originally a nickname for a longer name — and in fact, any of the Sts. Teresa/Therese can be patrons of a little Tess! But maybe they don’t want to follow Tiber with another T name?

(2) Hope, Faith
I think Hope and Faith can kind of bridge the style of Max/Zack/Kate/Nate/Eva/Ava/Claire with that of Selah/Brave/Jubilee/Hosanna/Jubilee/Hallelujah. I particularly like Faith for this family — it seems to fit Ali’s desire to “feel more connected to God, the body of Christ here on earth, and the communion of saints in heaven.”

(3) Zoe
I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard at the beginning of this consultation, and found Zoe to be the biggest style match of all the girl names, being similar in style to Max, Zachary (standing in for Zach, which doesn’t have its own entry), Ava, and Phoebe. When I looked back at our old emails, I was happy to see it was on my list for this family back then as well! It’s spunky and zippy, and it’s the birth name of a different St. Catherine — St. Catherine Laboure. (I should say, I assumed the St. Catherine they’d intended as the patron for a Kate last time around is Siena! But maybe they meant Laboure?) And it’s got a great meaning: “life.” In fact, Behind the Name says that from “early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve,” which gives it a Marian spin via her title New Eve.

(4) Liv
Speaking of Eve, I almost included it as a suggestion last time, and now Eva and Ava — both of which are Eve variants — are on Ali’s hubby’s current list of favorites! And Evangeline is on Ali’s! Back then, I’d thought Eve might be a little too serious for what I perceive Ali’s taste to be, but I’d thought that Liv felt more like her, to me, and like Eve (and Zoe) it’s related to “life.” But to tie it to a saint, it’s used as a nickname for Olivia, so St. Oliver Plunkett can be patron, or Our Lady of Olives.

(5) Rose
I liked Rose for this family last time, so I’m happy to see it on their “’eh’ rating or better” list now! It’s beautiful, simple, and Marian. I quite like both Rose Magdalene and Magdalene Rose.

(6) Clare
At the end of my last consultation for this family, I’d said that there were a bunch of other names I considered but decided not to include in my “final” list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them just in case — and Clare was one of those! So seeing Claire on Ali’s hubby’s list and Clara on their combined list feels right. (The others I thought about including but decided not to were Shea, Elle, Abby, Molly, Jane, Rue.)

And the more charismatic, “dripping in signifance” names that I suggested last time that I think are more Ali’s taste include:

(1) Charis
Taken right from the word “charismatic” itself, and contained within the word Eucharist, Charis is a really pretty girl name. I’ve seen parents choose it because of the connection to the word Eucharist (and that part of Eucharist is the same as the “charis” in charism(atic)). I feel like Charis fits right in with Ali’s husband’s preference for “shorter names that sound cute”! Like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ daughter Carys, Charis is said the same way.

(2) Caeli
Again, short and cute! But for Ali, it’s a heavy duty Catholicky Catholic name! You can say it CHAY-lee or KAY-lee, and it’s Latin for “of heaven,” as in the Marian title Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven).

(3) Pia
Pia means “pious,” and Our Lady is called “pia” in the Latin form of the Hail Holy Queen (O pia, o clemens, o dulcis virgo Maria). Actor David Henrie (from “Wizards of Waverly Place”) is actually a devout Catholic and named his baby girl Pia — I’ve been loving seeing the name and her sweet face in my Instagram feed!

(4) Kyrie
I know the basketball player Kyrie Irving is a man, and Kyrie means “Lord,” but I’ve always thought of it as sounding more feminine (I’m sure I’m influenced by Kira). He says KY-ree, but at Mass we say KEE-ree-ay.

(5) Rosary
I’d mentioned Rosary last time as a Marian middle name idea for Kate, but since they have Rose on their list of first name ideas, maybe they’d be open to considering Rosary as a first name? This reader of mine named one of her daughters Rosary! Also, I don’t know if Ali and/or her husband have any ties to Louisiana, but I discovered that Rosary isn’t an uncommon first name in the New Orleans area.

So those are the names from last time that I think still have possibility for this family this time (unless of course Ali and her hubs already went through them last time or this time and decided they hate them!) Fortunately, I can always come up with more ideas!

As mentioned, I looked up the names they used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard to find names that are similar to them in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also looked through my book of Marian names with, I admit, an eye for shorter names like the kind Ali’s husband likes. But always with Ali’s love of the more obvious faithy names in mind! Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this family:

(1) Ave, Avila
I really love the idea of Ave for this family. Ali’s hubby has Eva and Ava on his list, and Ali has Evangeline on hers, so those three letters seem like a great point of compromise for them both. But Ave really bumps it up — it’s said AH-vay, and it’s the first word in the Latin version of the Hail Mary: Ave Maria. While we’re talking about Av- names, I also wondered if they might like Avila? Like St. Teresa of Avila? It’s a place name like Tiber, so maybe that would be a turn off? Or maybe it’s perfect!

(2) Cana
Speaking of place names, Cana (KAY-na) is in my book of Marian names for this reason: “This name refers to the Wedding Feast at Cana, at which Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine because his mother asked him to (Second Luminous Mystery of the Rosary). I’ve always loved this example of Our Lady’s love for us and her intercession on our behalf.” There’s a little girl named Cana in my Instagram feed, I love it!

(3) Magnificat, Magnify
Magnificat is an entry in my book for this reason: “In the Liturgy of the Hours (the ‘daily prayer of the Church,’ involving five times of prayers throughout the day), Evening Prayer includes the ‘Canticle of Mary,’ also known as the Magnificat, after the first word of the first line in Latin: Magnificat anima mea Dominum (‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord’). It’s the beautiful prayer of blessing and adoration that Our Lady exclaims after hearing Elizabeth’s greeting during the Visitation (Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary). Though I’ve never seen Magnificat used as a given name, its similarity in sound and nickname possibility to Magdalene and Margaret makes it quite feasible.” Since they’re already considering Magdalene, I thought they might like to consider Magnificat! Or what about Magnify? I was thinking recently what a cool given name that would be. Very along the lines of Praise/Jubilee/Hosanna!

(4) Veil
I wrote in my book about the name Veil: “Our Lady always wears a veil, both in her apparitions and in artistic renditions … Additionally, Our Lady of Mercy (also known as the Madonna della Misericordia) is associated with images of the faithful taking refuge under her cloak, also known as her veil or mantle.” Veil has amazing faith connections, and is short like the names Ali’s hubby likes (and it has that prominent V, like in Eva, Ava, Evangeline, and Genevieve)! One of my readers gave Veil as a middle name to one of her daughters, specifically “after the Holy Protection of Our Lady, since Mary’s veil is known as a symbol of her motherly protection and care” (so beautiful!), and the ‘Today Show’ co-anchor Savannah Guthrie named her daughter the sound-alike Vale.

(5) Seraphina
Seraphina is a style match for Evangeline, and it’s an entry in my book of Marian names as well! I think it fits Ali’s criteria of a “crazier name dripping in significance”: it refers to the seraphim, the order of angels who “stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court” and it gets its Marian character from two of Our Lady’s titles: “Our Lady of the Angels” and “Queen of the Angels.” It can also be easily nicknamed to Sera or Fia or even Sophie, which might appeal to Ali’s husband.

(6) Reina
Reina is Spanish for “queen” — the Spanish counterpart to Regina — and as Our Lady is Queen of so many things, it’s exquisitely Marian! One of my readers named her daughter Reina Grace, after Our Lady, I just love it. It’s short and sweet like the names Ali’s hubby likes, too!

(7) Gloria, Glory
I’m interested to see what Ali thinks of this idea. Gloria is a familiar enough name — it’s tended to feel old lady-ish, but it’s definitely on the upswing — I currently know two little girls named Gloria! And think of how many times we say Gloria at Mass — it’s such a Catholic name! That said, I wondered if Ali might like Glory even better? I think Glory, being more unfamiliar than Gloria, comes across as a more charismatic name, and since it’s one syllable less than Gloria, Ali’s husband might like it even better.

(8) Gemma
Gemma has similar sounds to Emilia and Genevieve on Ali and her hubs’ shared list, and similar meaning to Pearl (Gemma means “gem, precious stone”), and St. Gemma Galgani has made it a favorite among Catholic families!

(9) Eden
Eden is a match for Noelle, and it’s similar in sound to Eva, and I’ve recently encountered two devout Catholic families who have daughters named Eden, so maybe Ali and her hubby would like to consider it too? I think it fits the “shorter names that sound cute” criteria of Ali’s husband’s, and one of the mamas who has a daughter named Eden explained they chose it because the “Garden of Eden was the ultimate paradise and gift.” I love that!

(10) Verity
My last idea for this family is Verity. It means “truth,” and I think it fits right in with the other quirky + significant names Ali likes, and can have some cute nicknames like Vee, Vera, and maybe Via.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister of Max, Zack, and Tiber — whether “short and cute” or “crazier and dripping in significance” … or both!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Nickname-as-given-name, plus charismatic name ideas

Ali and her husband are expecting their third baby! This little one joins big brothers:

Max Patrick
Zack Joseph

I love both of those names! Using short-and-sweet names — including the way Ali and her hubs have done it, where the names are usually used as nicknames — is a really fun way to go.

Ali writes,

Max was a result of me and hubby not agreeing and finally he said “how about Max?” Zack, we chose because it was monosyllabic and had the ah sound like Max. Max’s middle name was chosen because hub’s grandma, Patricia, has just passed away. It was a nod to her and a nod to St Patrick. Zack was adopted and we had a particular affinity for St Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus during the long process.

We like the idea of a middle name being a saint name and the first name being a shortened saint name. So Max isn’t Maximilian and Zack isn’t Zachary or Zechariah or anything. Since my hubby is Andrew and goes by Andy and my name is Alison but I go by Ali, we wanted to give our children a short first name that was their actual name. I didn’t want a long name I was going to shorten anyways. So a cool nod, monosyllabic, to a saint for a first name with a saint or Marian middle name is the goal.

We will be finding out soon if it’s a boy or girl. I have really no clue what I want for a boy. All I know is what I don’t want — names ending in -ack or -ax and not starting with Ma-. I’m not a huge fan of Luke or Ben. I’m not completely opposed to two syllables if it’s a cool name. I kinda like Nate. Shortened form but stands alone fine, single syllable.

For girls, we really like the first name Kate, for my best friend Katherine (Katie) who passed away in college and a nod to St Catherine. We are not sold on it yet. We would love to somehow incorporate a Marian middle name because my mom is Mary.

My husband is a cradle catholic and I’m a convert. My confirmation Saint was St Stephen of MarSaba. I have a personal affinity for him, Joseph, and Francis of Assisi. We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome. [Ali offered the example of Jubilee.]

Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Besides Nate and Kate (didn’t realize they rhymed until now), we are completely stumped on names.”

I had a lot of fun working on this! I love that Kate is their frontrunner for a girl, and not just because it’s my name! 😊 I love the name Kate — if I had to choose my own name, I’m sure it’s the one I would pick. It can be spunky and serious, attorney and artist. Pairing it up with a Marian name for the middle, I think Kate Marie sounds fine, as does Kate Marian. Maybe Kate Rosemary? If they were open to branching out from Mary itself, I’m kind of digging the idea of Kate Rosary — I posted a birth announcement for a little Rosary when I first started the blog, and thought it was just the coolest idea. Or, to make the St. Catherine connection more obvious, Kate Siena? Or two middle names: Kate Siena Rose? Kate Siena Mary? Or, moving beyond Mary names, Kate Elizabeth would go quite nicely together.

It’s funny too that Ali said Nate is also a contender and that she didn’t realize they rhymed til she was emailing me — I know a sister and brother named Kate and Nate! They must feel like they go together!

Alrighty, so you all know that I normally start a consultation by looking up names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for Ali and her hubs — I looked up Max, Kate, Jack (as a stand-in for Zack), and Zachary, as I felt they would yield the best results — though I didn’t find it to be as helpful as usual. So I really just kind of went off in my own direction of trying to think of one-syllable nickname-type names that can stand on their own. I also consulted the “Short and Sweet” list in the back of the BNW. Based on all that, these are my ideas that I think fit in well with the feel of Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate:

Girl

(1) Tess
I looove the name Tess, and just like with Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate, it’s originally a nickname for a longer name — in fact, any of the Sts. Teresa/Therese can be patrons of a little Tess!

(2) Hope, Faith
I have some suggestions below that might fit in more with their charismatic sensibility, but I think Hope and Faith can kind of bridge the style of Max/Zack/Kate/Nate with that of some more out-there names like Jubilee (tangentially, this reminds me of this family, who has True, Brave, Soul, and Glow).

(3) Beth
Beth can certainly be for any of the Sts. Elizabeth, but I actually had Bethany more in mind when I added it to the list!

(4) Zoe
I know it’s two syllables, but you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s spunky and zippy, and it’s the birth name of a different St. Catherine — St. Catherine Laboure. (I should say, I assumed Ali’s St. Catherine is Siena! But maybe she meant Laboure?) But maybe they don’t care to repeat Zack’s initial?

(5) Liv, Viv
I almost included Eve as a suggestion, and ultimately decided it was a little too … staid? Serious? For what I perceive Ali’s and her husband’s taste to be? But Liv felt more like them, to me, and like Eve (and Zoe) it’s related to “life.” But to tie it to a saint, it’s used as a nickname for Olivia, so St. Oliver Plunkett can be patron, or Our Lady of Olives. It also made me think of the rhyming Viv, and it’s funny because just recently I was thinking again how disappointed I was in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they named their twins Knox and Vivienne, because, though I love Vivienne, I always felt like Knox and Viv would have gone together better, especially since the older sisters have the more-unusual-than-Vivienne names Shiloh and Zahara. (I know it’s weird that I have an opinion on it!) There’s a St. Vivian that can be patron.

(6) Mae, Rose
Mae is a Mary variant, so it can work to honor Ali’s Mom and Mother Mary! And Rose speaks for itself. I’m including them together because I did a consultation + birth announcement recently for a family who has girls Mae and Rose — those are their given names and I thought they were so pretty together.

There were a bunch of other names I considered but decided not to include in my “final” list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Clare, Shea, Elle, Abby, Molly, Jane, Rue.

Boy

(1) Sam
Funny that Sam is my first suggestion for Ali and her hubs on the boy list, when those two girls with the names that are the last on my girl list, Mae and Rose, have a brother Samuel! I love Sam with Max and Zack (and Kate/Nate if they do so later).

(2) Cole, Nico
Cole and Nico are both variants/nicknames of Nicholas, who’s a great patron!

(3) Leo, Theo
In my experience, parents who like shorter names like Leo and Theo. Leo’s a little different from their other ideas in that it’s a full name on its own and it didn’t start as a nickname (though it can be for Leopold/Leonard(o)), but Theo definitely has a similar feel as Max, Zack, Kate, and Nate.

(4) Hank
The name Hank makes me grin whenever I see it! What a fun name! It’s a traditional nickname for Henry, so any of the Sts. Henry can be patron.

(5) Tad
Tad is a nickname for Thaddeus, so they can choose St. Jude Thaddeus as patron, or Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican priest and martyr to whom I have a devotion.

(6) Eli
I think the biblical Eli ties nicely to Zack, which I think most people would connect with the longer biblical names, but it was actually listed as a style match for Max.

So those are my ideas for names that I think are similar enough to Ali and her hubs’ style that they might like them and feel comfortable with them. But I loved Ali’s comment, “We are charismatic Catholics so if you’re feeling creative and want to put a crazier name in the mix, that would be awesome.” Keeping Jubilee in mind as inspiration, this is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Charis
Taken right from the word “charismatic” itself, and contained within the word Eucharist, Charis is a really pretty girl name. I’ve seen parents choose it because of the connection to the word Eucharist (and that part of Eucharist is the same as the “charis” in charism(atic)).

(2) Caeli
This could make a great middle name if they liked it but weren’t comfortable with it for the first name. It can be said CHAY-lee or KAY-lee, and it’s Latin for “of heaven,” as in the Marian title Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven).

(3) Halle
Not to talk football the day after the Superbowl 😀 , but Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers and his wife named their first baby Halle because Halle’s contained in Hallelujah. So cool, right?

(4) Roma
After Rome, like Roman Catholic!

(5) Pia
Pia means “pious,” and Our Lady is called “pia” in the Latin form of the Hail Holy Queen (O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria).

(6) Kyrie
I know the basketball player Kyrie Irving is a guy, and Kyrie means “Lord,” but I’ve always thought of it as sounding more feminine (I’m sure I’m influenced by Kira). He says KY-ree, but at Mass we say KEE-ree-ay.

(7) Praise
One of the mamas I spotlighted on the blog because of her fantastically creative taste in names recently named a son à Kempis Exodus Praise, and I could see Praise being a really pretty name for a girl as well.

Boy

(1) Tiber
I love the name Tiber — this mama used it for her boy because of her conversion and her husband’s reversion. The Tiber is a river in Rome, so those that have converted are said to have “crossed the Tiber” — could be meaningful for Ali too!

(2) Blaise
Funny enough, that mom of Tiber also has a Cole (which I suggested above) and a Blaise, which also strikes me as a great charismatic name because of how it sounds like “blaze”!

(3) Cruz
Those who don’t have any Hispanic ancestry might feel weird about using this name, but that didn’t stop the Beckhams! Cruz means “cross” and refers to the Cross of Crucifixion.

(4) Pace
I totally would have suggested Pax if they didn’t already have Max, but Pace means the same: peace.

(5) Rio
When Pope Francis visited Rio de Janeiro, I immediately started thinking about Rio as a faithy name! It could be a nod to Pope Francis via his trip there, or the River Jordan, or John the Baptist because he baptized Jesus in the Jordan.

(6) Creed
Fans of The Office will probably laugh at this suggestion! But it’s a great name, full of faith significance.

I also did a post a while back on Holy Spirit names, which might interest Ali and her hubs.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Max and Zack?